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Temporary good-bye

I Thessalonians 4:14-18 – “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Well, I find myself on the road again. This time, we are headed to a funeral. Grandpa lost his battle here on earth but won a far greater prize – the presence of Jesus. As my little niece so appropriately put it, “Grandpa closed his eyes and when he opened them again, he saw Jesus.” How cool is that!

But as comforting as it is to know that he is in the presence of His Savior, we still have to say good-bye or rather, so long for now. And that’s not always the easiest task to accomplish. 

You see, we all are a bit selfish. We want him here. We don’t want to have to face all the challenges of living without him. We want it to be easy. We want to go up to his house and have him go with us to get the 4 wheeler out of the shed. We want to see him stand at the gate to the pasture and call the cows. We want to fuss at him about not putting his own socks on (long story). We want to hear him give grandma a hard time and laugh at his quirky little ways. But that’s not the case with this trip.

This time, we go to comfort one another. We go to say our “so-long for now” and to lay him to rest. We go to remember. We go to cry. We go to laugh. We go to give our support.

But one day, in the not too distant future, I imagine, we will see him again. We will see him, my dad, my grandma, my other grandpa, my uncles, and all the friends and loved ones who have gone on before us to the presence of God. Jesus will come back. Those graves we so diligently keep will burst open. We who are left will meet Jesus in the air. Oh….I can’t wait! Even so Lord Jesus come!

So amongst all the tears and sadness, I will be holding to hope. I will be smiling on the inside because I know this is just a temporary good-bye. This is just another bump in the road. Grandpa knew it. Daddy knew it. All of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior know it. Death is hard. Death is sad. Death seems so final. But it’s not. Jesus has overcome death. And that is why I will be smiling on the inside – because I know it is just temporary.

Another anniversary…

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

It was 15 years yesterday that my Daddy went home to be with the Lord. I had several days leading up to yesterday that were really tough. I cried a lot. But yesterday wasn’t too tough. I kept busy and when the tears threatened, I distracted myself. 

But as I laid in bed last night, memories of that day came flooding back – details that one usually forgets, I remembered. But here’s the thing – I saw them as blessings, well…all but one of I’m being honest. Anyway, I was remembering how my mother-in-law and her best friend packed my suitcase because I was in no state to do so myself. By the way, I was never able to get everything back in. I remembered my Aunt meeting me at the gate at the airport, which was not done after 9-11. I remembered my mom’s pastor and his wife picking us up at the airport. I remember the sweet church ladies who brought my mom new dish towels – “no one wants a bunch of people in the house with yucky dish towels”, they said. 

Acts of love that during an impossibly hard circumstance made things a bit more tolerable. 

Blessings. 

Now, you may be asking yourself what these verses have to do with this recall of my day. Paul wrote that we should rejoice and give thanks in all things and pray without ceasing. I’m guessing that means even in the loss of a loved one. I’m guessing that means even 15 years later. 

I don’t think the sting of that day will ever go away, but the blessings I see in the memories of that time are sweet. I rejoice in the fact that one day I will see my Daddy in Heaven. I pray that God will give us what we need on a day to day basis to show His love to others just as I was shown. And I am thankful for those who reached out to me in my darkest hour and touched my life in a way that still affects me today. 

Spilled coffee

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

I had this brilliant idea this weekend – I was going to make some killer cold brew coffee. I found the recipe online, bought the necessary items and got it all ready. Yesterday, the brew was supposed to be done. So I get out my handy dandy fine mesh strainer to pour it up. And, no lie, I poured about three quarters of it on the counter and on the floor. You want to talk about a mess??!! Coffee granules EVERYWHERE! The granules had clumped together and when they came out, the dam broke and wa-la! Coffee flood. Not pretty. 

But God, in His infinite wisdom, had bestowed upon me, at that moment, some kind of miraculous grace and mercy because it didn’t completely destroy me. I didn’t cry. I didn’t scream. I didn’t begrudgingly hold back words that wouldn’t have been pleasing to Him. I just looked at it and said, “Man, what a waste of ten dollars!” 

So what could I possibly find to be thankful for in this situation? I don’t know how the coffee tastes. Honestly, I’m a little scared to try it since God poured almost the whole thing out. I’m thankful that He gave me what I needed in that situation. I’m thankful for paper towels. I’m thankful I didn’t drop the glass pitcher I was holding when the dam broke loose!

Sometimes it is hard to be thankful in crazy and upsetting situations. Sometimes that gratitude takes time. But God wants us to see each and every situation in our life as an opportunity to learn and grow. It is a chance to find Him working in your life in a way that you could never imagine. 

So this week, take nothing for granted. See God working in your life. See His hand molding and making you in ways you never imagined. And thank Him for that. Be grateful that He loves you enough to give you what you need at the very moment you need it. 

Praying on purposeĀ 

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – “Pray without ceasing.”

Short verse. You’re welcome. 

So very much can be said of this short little verse. It truly speaks volumes. 

Do you pray without ceasing? Are you in constant and continual communication with the Creator of the universe? Do you have His ear in all manners?

If you’re like me, probably not. Sometimes I just go and that’s usually the time I get myself in trouble. Sometimes I think that the issue is too small – “God doesn’t have time for that. I can do it myself. Just this one time.” And before I know it, I’m plugging away, doing my own thing and stepping farther and farther away from Him. 

Pray without ceasing.

So how does this go along with doing things on purpose? To be in constant pray requires purpose. You have to decide you are going to do it and then it takes a massive amount of effort to carry through. Just try it for an hour. See how well you do. It is tough. It requires purpose. 

But there are so many blessings and benefits. You may find yourself in a perpetual mode of praise. You may find yourself thinking about someone you hadn’t seen in years. You may find yourself dissecting a relationship that has been festering for some time. You never know what the Lord is going to do when you submit yourself to His desires and His will. 

Today, start the process of beginning to pray on purpose and pray continually. It is a journey, but never has God sent us on a journey that He did not bless and sanction in the first place. Trust me, He want you and I both down this path!

Until we meet again…

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

On Friday night, my cousin (in-law) died. She had battled cancer off and on for quite some time. She fought. She lived. She loved. But in my eyes, she gained her heavenly home way too early. Her son had just gotten married. Her younger son is just starting to spread his wings and fly. There was still a lot of life to live, in my eyes. 

But God saw things differently. He had prepared her a while ago to take the last step. She knew it was coming. However, that never makes things any easier. 

Paul said that to be absent from this life is to be present with the Lord. And that’s where she is right now – with Jesus and all of her loved ones gone before her. 

I’m not sure how someone deals with death without Jesus. I know in my own life when death has reared its’ ugly head, I go running to my Savior. I can’t face anything, let alone saying goodbye, without Him. 

I’m sad that I won’t get to make it to her services. I would love to be there for the family. But since I can’t, this is my way of loving on them. 

So, you know who you are – I love you. I know I wasn’t able to be there a lot but my memories of her are so very sweet. And be comforted in knowing that we will see her again. She knew Jesus and she lived for Him. Now, she lives with Him. What a privilege that is! My prayer is that you find peace and comfort in the One and Only. 

Love, Me. 

The hammock swing

1 Thessalonians 5:21 – “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

Several weeks ago, we purchased a hammock swing. I love those things! We have been so busy that my husband just got around to putting it up this weekend. 

He got the hook and the epoxy and was set to hang it. As he was reading the instructions for the epoxy, he realized that there were no written instructions – only pictures. They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Well, not so much in this case. 

He didn’t realize that he needed to prime the epoxy by squirting some out to let it mix first. He went ahead and squirted it up in the hole and then wondered. He wondered if it would hold. He would sit and stare at the hook and think. He was fearful that one of us would sit in the swing and end up with a head injury from it falling to the ground. 

He had pulled on it, hung on it and it all seemed ok. However, he tried turning the hook. And it twisted right out of the hole. He had to start all over again. 

This time, he is confident that he completed the task correctly. I’m planning to use the swing today, if I have the opportunity. 

My point in all of this is sometimes we have to do extensive proving to determine if things are good. They may seem good at first. It may seem like things will be okay. I though the swing would be fine. Boy am I glad that my husband listens to that still small voice that warned him that something wasn’t right!

When we do find the good and the true and the right, we have to hold onto it for all we are worth. We have to guard its place in our heart fiercely. We have to choose to make sure that it has a rightful place in our day to day living. We have to hold steadfast to it. 

The best place to find all that is good and true and right is in the Bible. It’s all there. It’s ready to guide, comfort and provide all that we need each and every day. But like I told my Sunday school class, it won’t do you a lick of good if you don’t use it. 

Open it. Use it. Remember it. Apply it. Cherish it. 

ASAP

  
1 Thessalonians 5:17 – “Pray without ceasing.”

I was in the store the other day and saw this cute little plaque. 

We usually think of ASAP meaning “as soon as possible”.  But when I saw this rendition of it, I thought it much more fitting. 

Too often we are caught up in the “as soon as possible” meaning. We are so focused on what needs to be done and how quickly can we get it done that we forget the other side of the coin. We have deadlines to meet and appointments to keep and lists that need to be accomplished. And those things are all well and good, in their own time. 

But how much different would our day be if we “always stop and pray”? How often do we hush the Holy Spirit when we hear that “still, small Voice” speaking to our heart? I know there have been times in my life when I have heard that Voice speaking to my heart to warn me not to do something and I do it any way and then I am faced with the guilt of sin and the rememberance that I had been warned. And then there are times when He speaks to my heart and reminds me of someone that needs my prayers right now. And I stop and pray for them and He won’t let it go. The feeling of the need for prayer stays with me. So I keep praying. And then not too long afterwards, I get a text from that very person telling me the outcome of my prayers. I love that. I love that God is so involved in our lives and that He intertwines them with just the right people. I love that He brings us through trials with the prayers of others. But how much different would those trials be if we hushed the Holy Spirit and neglected to “always stop and pray”?

So today, when you hear that Voice speaking to your heart, don’t hush Him up. Listen. There may be someone standing in the need of prayer and you need to “always stop and pray”. ASAP is more than an acronym for time. It is an acronym for life – a life of prayer that draws us closer to God and closer to one another.